In recognition of Women’s Equality Day, in this installment of our heritage series we spotlight some of the milestones and notable achievements of women at New York Life throughout the company’s over 175-year history.
1. The Company hired its first female employee, Winifred Supple, 35 years before women had the constitutional right to vote, 79 years before federal law prohibited gender discrimination in employment, and 89 years before women were entitled to equal access to credit and housing.
2. Minnie Tumbleson became the first female New York Life agent in 1891 and became recognized as a leading agent of the day.
3. In 1916, Mrs. Alex McColl became president of the $100,000 club, the first woman to win the presidency of a New York Life sales club.
4. Anna Rusche was our first female general manager, now referred to as managing partner, in 1923.
5. Beginning in the 1940s, the company hired a number of notable women who enjoyed long, successful careers at New York Life, including Eve Byron Wyatt, Gertrude Nelson, Mary E. L. Cassedy, Dorothy Landon, Barbara Hinebaugh, Pat Nowak, and Rose Beattie.
6. In 1953, New York Life Agent Lucille Devore Tucker joined the Million Dollar Round Table (the highest industry honor for an insurance salesperson), the first woman to do so.
7. Michael Kraft became the first woman to win the company’s highest honor for a managing partner when the Oakland Office (now East Bay Office) received the 1995 Chairman’s Trophy.
8. Four of the past eight Council presidents—the top agent in the company by annual sales—have been women: Jayshree Patel, Greater Chicago Office, in 2012; Christie Mueller, Seattle Office, in 2016; Lizzie Dipp Metzger, El Paso Office, in 2017; and Donna Elison, New Orleans Office, in 2018. With Elison achieving the Council vice presidency in 2013 and 2014, and Mueller in 2015, a woman has been a Council officer seven of the last eight years. In 2020, Jennifer Leisman Dessert of our Boston Office, became the fifth woman to reach the Council Presidency.
9. Today, women make up 59 percent of New York Life’s workforce.
10. In the field, 33 percent of agents are women, as are 20 percent of the company’s managing partners.
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